Most Easter Sundays you can find John Legend at home helping to cook a great dinner for his family and friends. This year, however, the singer will be somewhat busy playing the role of Jesus Christ in front of millions of people.
Legend leads a cast that includes Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper from a live version of the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that will air on NBC.
It is the latest addition to the primetime programming of musicals for television that began five years ago with "The Rebel Novice" and that has included "Peter Pan", "Vaselina", "The Wiz" and "Hairspray". Although these programs are usually broadcast at Christmas, this time the date was more appropriate for this musical that turns 47 years.
"It's an emblematic show, it meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time," Legend said. "We want people who are already fans to get excited about our version, but also to attract new people to the show."
The musical explores the explosive intersection between politics and spectacle with a music loaded with guitar and organ that includes pieces like "I Do not Know How to Love Him", "Everything's Alright" and "Superstar".
Musicals for live television have become increasingly complex, with the use of cars and multiple locations, including some outdoors. But in this case "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be a simpler version, in an attempt to capture the vibe of a live concert. It will be mounted in an armory in Brooklyn with about 12 cameras.
The actors will be accompanied by a band of 32 musicians, including a mobile string quartet composed of women, and there will be 1,500 people in the audience in person, surrounding the action and even interacting with the actors. The stage will be only about 60 centimeters (2 feet) in height from the audience.
"I'm very excited that we have a live audience to work with him and feel the energy of the room because I think that being a conceptual artist and now in the theater, that's what we lack a lot of the time," said Bareilles, who will play Mary Magdalene.
The director David Leveaux promised that his version of the musical will be "very loose, not meticulous, rather raw". The rest of the cast includes Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Cooper as King Herod and Norm Lewis as Caiaphas.
Costume designer Paul Tazewell, who dressed the cast of "Hamilton", has put the actors in light tunics with modern and sensual silhouettes. Choreographer Camille A. Brown will mix traditional dances with hip hop, New Orleans and Charleston style dance.
Leveaux will use real flames and pyrotechnics for "Superstar" as well as some tricks that do not require much technology, such as a white scarf that can have multiple uses.
"This is live so you create ingredients that can explode because it's live," said executive producer Marc Platt. "This time we have an audience and an interactive concert, and live musicians, something that had never been done, so we are not mortified. We accept that it is live and the risks that implies because that is what is exciting ".
Legend, who has won a Grammy, a Tony and an Oscar, knows that he only needs an Emmy to enter the select group of stars that have won the main prizes of the United States known as EGOT (for the initials of each award), but he does not expect his version of Jesus to take him to this trophy. Legend debuted as an actor in "La La Land" in 2016.
"I do not have the audacity to think that I will be considered for a prize with my second role as an actor," he said laughing. "But I'm aware of the gap in my EGOT."
The musician, actor and producer, John Legend will be Jesus in the television musical that NBC will premiere on April 1, 2018. It is 'Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert' , based on the 1971 Broadway musical, which narrates the last week of Jesus' life.
Legend is an artist with multiple jobs behind with those who has won 10 Grammy awards and an Oscar for the song 'Glory' of Selma, based on the marches for voting rights led by Martin Luther King Jr. film also He has also produced films such as La La Land.
'Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert' is scheduled to premiere on April 1, 2018. The project is directed by Alex Rudzinski, and his screenplay is in the hands of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice and Marc Platt.
You can watch Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC and go ahead to their website for clips and highlights of the event.